Niall Horan, previously of One Direction and now a solo artist, talks about his upcoming album and songwriting process at a secret showcase in town last Friday
Niall Horan may have been known as the one with the baby face charm in English-Irish boy band, One Direction, but he managed to captivate us beyond his boyish looks at an exclusive media showcase last Friday. Held at the Esplanade Annexe, the Irish singer, clad in a simple white T-shirt, jeans, red outerwear — which he proceeded to take off later during the show — and a hat, performed hits like 'This Town', 'Slow Hands' and an unreleased track, titled 'On The Loose', from his upcoming album. With a guitar in hand, Horan also performed a cover of Thin Lizzy's 'Dancing In The Moonlight'. While he declined to reveal anything else about his debut solo record, slated to drop later this year, he speaks to us about whom he would love to work with, when he writes the best songs, and how he made a group of grown men cry.
You worked with Greg Kurstin on 'In This Town', who also happens to be Adele's producer. Are there any other memorable producers that you've worked with? Well, I worked with Jacquire King on my upcoming album, and he's always been a producer on my wishlist. He was previously responsible for the production of Only by the Night by Kings of Leon, so working with him was pretty cool. I've also worked with Don Was, who was responsible for the later Bob Dylan albums and a lot of John Mayer. I really enjoyed that experience and hopefully we'll have another opportunity soon — he's a pretty good one.
Can you tell us one crazy or weird experience from the making of the upcoming album? One time, we were recording my favourite song from the upcoming album, and as I was sitting down in the booth and playing the guitar, while playing alongside the band, the producer just came into our area and said, "Okay, we need to go and take a break now, everyone's geting a bit emotional." It was an emotional song and we had just done two takes. So we all walked outside and nobody spoke a sentence for 20 minutes. Everyone was kind of taken aback by what had just happened — I think that was quite a poignant moment in the making of the album.
You were backpacking in Asia last year, and you've said that you had such a good experience there. Did that influence your album at all? I won't say musically because I'm not from this side of the world, but it definitely opened up my mind to different things. I had time to think about stuff, and I did a lot of my concept writing when I was in Asia.
Are there any live performers that you would love to perform with? I'm good friends with the boys from The Lumineers, so I wouldn't mind if we did something together.
Where's your go-to place when you're sad or stressed? That's wherever I can be completely on my own, so usually in my house or on the golf course — and I just completely chill out instead of worrying about everything else.
One of your favourite songs from the album was written when you were sitting on a couch watching football. How does that lightbulb moment happen when you're writing songs? It depends. I find that I write my best stuff when I'm not trying to write. When an idea comes to me, I turn on my voice mail on my phone and start singing to it. But when I try and go into the studio and concentrate, sometimes I just start overthinking stuff and how things should sound. I've come to put my guitar riffs, rhythmic stuff, and lyrics in a little box that I carry. I write stories and concepts in my own time, and just when I go into writing, I pull lines out from that box and try to stick them together. It's an interesting process because it never happens the same way twice.